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Cryptosporidiosis (Cryptosporidium parvum)

(513) This is a small single-cell organism which infects the cells at the base and top of the finger-like villi in the small intestine. The oocysts are passed out in the faeces and the cycle of infection is direct.

C. parvum can survive outside the pig for 6-10 weeks. The condition is usually unimportant unless pigs are exposed to heavy infections or they are part of a secondary infection following other primary causes of diarrhoea.

The life cycle

This is similar to Eimeria and Isospora species.

Clinical signs

These are associated with villus atrophy in piglets 7-21 days old and mild malabsorption manifest by diarrhoea. Cryptosporidia also infect humans, rats, mice and other species.


Oocysts can be detected in the laboratory in stained smears of faecal scour or by histological examinations of the small intestine at post-mortem.


  • No medicines are effective against this condition and prevention therefore is important.
Management control and prevention.
  • Apply the same criteria as outlined for the control of coccidiosis.

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